Best Table Service Disney World Restaurants for Kids

Best Table Service Disney World Restaurants for Kids

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If you’re heading to Walt Disney World for the first time, it’s very likely that you have some kids going with you.

The good news is that there are a lot of kid-friendly restaurants in Disney World.

And the bad news is that there are a lot of kid-friendly restaurants at Disney World.

There are over 200 restaurants in all of Disney World. Unless your Disney vacation will be ten weeks long, choosing where your family is going to eat is a somewhat daunting task.

There are so many choices, often you don’t even know where to begin.

Obviously the term “best” is always subjective. And I can’t give you an exhaustive list, or we would be here all day.

But here’s my personal “best of” list of Disney World restaurants that are particularly good for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school age kids.

 


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Chef Mickey in Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Ah, Chef Mickey’s … we have such a love/hate relationship with you.

You’re overpriced. You’re noisy. Your food isn’t that great (and from what I’ve heard, at dinner and lunch it’s downright bad).

And yet I still have to recommend you to families with toddlers and preschoolers.

Why? Because your kids will be thrilled to load up their Mickey waffles with chocolate sauce, sprinkles, and whipped cream while they wait to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, and Donald.

And years from now, you will be doing what I am today … looking at old photos and being really glad that you went.

Chef Mickeys breakfast buffet at the Contemporary Resort in Walt Disney World

So yeah … despite its weaknesses, I still say, go to Chef Mickey’s — for breakfast. Just know what it is (very kid-friendly and a great place to meet the Fab Five) and what is isn’t (quiet, or the best meal of your life.)

And have fun!

Chef Mickey's breakfast at Disney World
Breakfast at Chef Mickeys
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom

I’m a huge Winnie the Pooh fan (I love both Disney and classic Pooh), so any place where you get to eat coffee cake and waffles and get to meet and actually hug Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore gets an “A” in my book.

Crystal Palace breakfast at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World
Rachael and Rebecca with Piglet

I also loved the decor.

Crystal Palace restaurant in the Magic Kingdom
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

The girls and I went to the Crystal Palace for breakfast, and the food was quite good, but not anything amazing or unique (which is one reason why kids will love it).

I have heard slightly less positive things about the Crystal Palace at lunch dinner, including the fact that it’s noisier and more chaotic during those times.

If you do go for breakfast, I would recommend trying to get a PPO ADR (Pre-Park Opening Advance Dining Reservation) OR going at around 10:30am so you don’t miss that opening hour at the Magic Kingdom when the lines are the shortest.

 

 

Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue

Hoop De Doo Revue Sign
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue is a 2-hour long dinner show that counts as 2 Table Service Credits on the Disney Dining Plan. Basically, the concept is that you’re a guest watching a group of traveling vaudevillian performers. The show includes singing, dancing, corny slapstick-style humor, and audience participation.

Hoop De Doo Revue Disney World
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

Hoop-De-Doo Revue is a great example of how enjoying something depends o lot onwho you are with. We went when our kids were early elementary school age, and a big part of the fun for us to see how much the kids were laughing at the silly, slapstick-style jokes.

I’m real sorry to say that if we were to go today, now that our two oldest kids are in high school, it would probably be a totally different experience. The girls might think it was lame, and they would probably be mortified by the audience participation. (No, wait. Correction: They would be mortified by their mother loudly and happily doing everything involved in the audience participation.)

This is no fancy dining experience, to put it lightly. The food is brought to your table in pails, for heaven’s sake, and will keep coming as long as you ask for it. The menu consists of gourmet offerings like cornbread, chicken ribs, baked beans, smashed potatoes, and strawberry shortcake. If you are a vegetarian, you can request noodles with marinara sauce as an alternative.

 

Biergarten in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion

A German restaurant may not sound like the most kid-friendly restaurant at first, but Biergarten has both a fun atmosphere and good food. My kids loved it and specifically asked to go back on subsequent trips.

They have a show about every hour, which is both educational and entertaining and involves audience participation.

HeidiGW on the DisBoards forum describes the experience well:

We ate [at Biergarten] for the first time last Christmas. and, we were surprised how much my husband and children loved it. I liked it. We had lunch, and three party members declared it the best meal of the 10-day trip. Everything was kept hot and fresh, and replaced pretty quickly.

i don’t remember it having a kids’ only-type section. For lack of a better term, the food isn’t weird…if the kids like chicken nuggets, they will like the pork schnitzel …a little thin cutlet, breaded and lightly fried. It was yummy.

If they like baked mac and cheese, they have a version of it that was really yummy. If they like butter noodles, the plain spaetzles would be great. Lots of things that look like hotdogs…
there may have been pizza on the buffet too.

 

Video — Best Disney World Sit-Down Restaurants for Kids

 

Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom

Cinderella’s Royal Table, located in the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom, is often considered the most coveted restaurant ADR to score in all of Disney World.

It is also considered expensive — because it is. Breakfast can be as high as $65 per adult, and dinner as high as $80. If you use the Disney Dining Plan, it counts as 2 Table Service Credits.

At breakfast, you can meet Cinderella, along with Ariel, Princess Aurora, and Snow White. At lunch and dinner Princess Jasmine and Snow White are the princesses joining Cinderella.

We’ve actually never eaten here — I didn’t even bother trying to get reservations when I heard how difficult it was. And over the years, I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some people say it’s one of the most overrated restaurants in Disney World.

So Is Cinderella’s Royal Table worth the price?

It sounds like the answer to that question can can best be answered by asking this question:

Are you willing to spend a lot of money (or 2 Table Service Credits on the Disney Dining Plan) and have mediocre food because you want the experience of eating in the Castle?

KellyArms20 on the DisBoards sums it up well:

It’s worth it in the sense that you have the opportunity to eat in the castle. The character interactions weren’t better than Akershus {Storybook Dining in Epcot’s Norway]. The only difference between Akershus and Cinderella’s Royal Table is the photo with Belle vs Cinderella, respectively.

I had a steak with shrimp which were good, but my potatoes tasted like Play Doh = inedible. The dessert and appetizer I had were ok.

If eating in the castle is the main driver, go for it. If it’s for the food, skip it. (I enjoy a hot dog at Casey’s more :blush:).

If it’s for the characters, go to Akershus if you can manage it, unless Cinderella is a priority. The food there isn’t a lot better, but the price is.

We won’t eat there again, but I’m happy we had the one time experience of eating in the castle.

 

Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest restaurant in Disney World
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

We went to Disney World when Be Our Guest was relatively new and couldn’t get reservations. By the time we went back, I had heard some mixed reviews about it and chose to eat somewhere else.

So in this case, I haven’t been there, but am just sharing what I’ve heard.

Be Our Guest is unique in that it is a counter service restaurant for breakfast and lunch, and a table service restaurant that counts as two Table Service Credits on the Disney Dining Plan. (If you eat during dinner, you get the added benefit of meeting The Beast.)

Be Our Guest has three different dining rooms: The Ballroom, The West Wing, and The Rose Gallery.

 

Be Our Guest at Disney World
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

If you’re eating with little kids, here are two tips:

  1. The Ballroom is the largest and noisiest room. I’ll leave that for you to decide whether that makes it a good fit for your family.
  2. I have heard that The West Wing could be considered scary to some kids because of the dark lighting.

Like Cinderella’s Royal Table, many people consider Be Our Guest to be overrated. But then I also heard lots of people rave about it — not just the castle decor, which I would expect people to like, but even claiming that the actual food was fantastic.

So I wasn’t sure what to think. I think Tom Bricker hit the nail on the head when he explained it this way:

Before we dined here, one thing I noticed is that the guest response to dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant is fairly divided. Based on what I’ve heard, I would say 70% of guests love dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant, while 20% hate it, and 10% are fairly indifferent. Part of this is inconsistent food and service quality, something that plagues all table service restaurants at Walt Disney World.

If I had to guess, I’d say another part of the ‘hate it’ camp is at least in part due to sky-high expectations resulting from the difficulty of getting an ADR here.

There’s also the possibility that some of that ‘love it’ camp is the result of confirmation bias: after doing all that work and hearing so much hype, some people probably want to love it and rate it more highly than they otherwise would have if they were able to walk-in to the restaurant without reservation.

My point with this is that you should keep your expectations in check: I’d put dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant among the top 25% of restaurants at Walt Disney World, but it’s far from the best.

 

Grey Stuff at Be Our Guest restuarant
“The Grey Stuff” at Be Our Guest
Photo courtesy of Laurie at Pics from the World of Disney

 

Ohana at the Polynesian Resort

Ohana (which means “family” in the Hawaiian language) is located in the Polynesian Resort.

I love eating at the resort restaurants because you get the visit and enjoy the resort decor even if you’re not staying there. The Polynesian, one of Disney’s Deluxe Resorts and one of the most expensive places you can stay on property, is a nice resort to get to enjoy!

 

Lobby at Disneys Polynesian resort
Our view of the Polynesian lobby while we waited for our table at ‘Ohana

 

The food at Ohana is served family style, which our hostess explained to us as being like “a reverse buffet — we bring unlimited food to you.”

There are two things I would “warn” you about Ohana:

  1. This is, and should be, a meal that you “experience” and take your time enjoying.

    Even though you’re just two stops away from the Magic Kingdom, I would not recommend trying to squeeze in dinner before rushing out to use your 7:00pm Fastpass for Seven Dwarves Mine Train.

  2. Pace yourself, because you will be getting a lot of of food.

    My family didn’t realize (because they hadn’t been listening to me carefully when I explained it to them, ahem) that there are so many courses at Ohana, and they filled up on the Pineapple-Coconut Bread, Pork Dumplings, and Noodles in Teriyaki Sauce … which was all amazingly good, but at that point you haven’t even gotten to the “real meal” of the meat skewers yet.

    And of course you really want to save room for the dessert, Bread Pudding à la mode with Bananas and Caramel Sauce.

Bread pudding at Ohana in Polynesian resort
Photo courtesy of Brett at Disney Photo Snapper

 

One more note about Ohana:
We went there for dinner, but they also have a Best Friends Breakfast with Lilo & Stitch (and Mickey Mouse and Pluto, dressed in Hawaiian garb.

If you’re trying to decide which one to go to, I would highly recommend doing dinner there instead of breakfast, unless your kids are huge Lilo & Stitch fans and you just can’t miss it.

The breakfast, from what I’ve heard, is fine, but basically just your average character breakfast. Dinner, however, is where you’ll really get a unique experience and great food.

 

50’s Prime Time Cafe

I’m always curiously amused by the concept of 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios … how did someone come up with this idea, exactly?

The restaurant replicates, in very specific and accurate details, a 1950s diner, complete with black and white television sets playing TV shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show (one of my favorites from childhood) and The Donna Reed Show (never saw it).

When we went to 50’s Prime Time Cafe on our “Girls Only” trip to Disney World a few years ago, I was expecting the experience to be really fun, but the food to be a less than amazing.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good the food was. The milkshakes were unbelievable (and huge, easily enough for 2-3 people to share), and my Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes was delicious.

Unfortunately, the reserve was also true … the experience was completely disappointing — BUT let me explain, because I don’t want you to write off the Prime Time Cafe (I definitely plan to return myself), and perhaps I can even help you avoid the experience we had.

When our server first came to our table, he told us that the people at the next table were our cousins, and that “Mom” had certain rules here, like no elbows on the table.

After he took our drink orders and left, I grinned at the girls and said, “Okay, this is gonna be fun!”

Well, sadly, that was the end of it. The rest of the meal was like eating at any other restaurant. The server took our order, he brought us food, he cleared the plates.

Meanwhile at a big table diagonally to my right, I kept seeing their server come out, say some things that I couldn’t hear because her back was to me, to which the entire table would erupt with laughter.

That table dinner didn’t just get a dinner. They got a performance.

We just got a dinner. A good dinner, but I was definitely expecting more.

Even worse, Rebecca made a point of finished her entire meal just so she could get a “Club Plate Club Sticker.” Our server made no comment about this when he picked up her, so I pointed out to him proudly, “Rebecca cleaned her plate!”

He gave us a disinterested nod as he carried the plates away.

On our way out, we told the hostess that Rebecca cleared her plate, and wasn’t she supposed to get something for it? The hostess acted surprised and gave Rebecca a few stickers.

I was so disappointed in our experience there that I seriously thought about writing a letter to complain after we got home from vacation. I was too azy to ever get around to it, though.

If you’re like me and want a “fun show” as part of your meal there, I would recommend you request “a server who is really it” when you show up for your reservation.

It never would have occurred to me to do that, because … well, I kind of thought that was part of the server’s job and the point of the restaurant.

I’m looking forward to going back someday, getting a better server, and enjoying the food again.

 

 


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What are your favorite Disney World restaurants for kids?

Now I want to hear from you.

  • What table service restaurants did your kids enjoy?
  • What are some “must-have” items for Disney dining with toddlers?
  • What’s your favorite piece of advice for families with toddlers who arechoosing restaurants?
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3 thoughts on “Best Table Service Disney World Restaurants for Kids”

  • I have eaten at Tusker house for lunch with a 4yr old and rest of our family. We enjoyed it and thought the assortment of foods was interesting. My husband is more a meat and potatoes guy from Oklahoma so he wasn’t thrilled. The characters were good but you can get just as much interaction with them at other meet and greet locations without the $235 bill at end.

    Also ate at Pecos Bill’s last time we were there. Loved it! Allsizes of foods served were shareable and delicious! We used ordering from app for 1st time there. Amazing how great that service is!!

    We always have pulled pork sandwiches or a hot dog at Cosmic Ray’s also! My nephew must see Sunny Eclipse every time! Good food!

  • I always see Chef Mickey’s on blogs listing the best restaurants for kids or the best character meals, but I rarely see Tusker House (Animal Kingdom). I’m not sure if the African-inspired menu scares people or why, but I don’t get why it’s not more popular. The food at Chef Mickeys is bad. And I mean BAD. My grandson, a big eater for a little guy, barely had seconds at Chef Mickey’s. He had four helpings of pancakes at Tusker House (“because they’re so good, Nana!). Their bread pudding is to die for! But even if you don’t eat breakfast there, there’s still plenty of food for the kids at lunch/dinner with offerings such as sliced lunch meats and corn dogs. It’s the only restaurant we visit every time we go to Disney, and we’ve never once had a bad meal or bad service. And, unlike at Chef Mickeys, we don’t have to wait 30+ minutes past our reservation time to be seated.

    You’ll see Safari Mickey, Donald, and Daisy so, again, not sure why it’s rarely mentioned. The characters often make their way around the tables more than once while you’re dining there. Last visit, we saw Daisy Duck three times. The day before at Chef Mickeys, we were there for over an hour and never saw Mickey.

    If you’re tired of paying out the wazoo for character interaction & bad food, then head over to Tusker House. It’s still got the character buffet price tag, but at least it comes with good food & great service.

    • That’s a good question … I wasn’t even aware of Tusker House on our first Disney visit, yet we were calling every day to try to get a reservation for Chef Mickey.

      Maybe it’s because “Mickey” is in the name? 😉

      Honestly, the first couple times we went to Disney World, we just kind of assumed that was the only character meal where you meet Mickey and his friends.

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